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Pequot Lakes runs past Perham for Section 8-AAA title

GRAND FORKS -- While Matt Michaelson has earned a reputation as a big-play back for Pequot Lakes and has the numbers to justify it, the Patriots showed that there's more to their backfield than the standout senior.

Pequot Lakes' running game dominated as the Patriots defeated defending champion Perham 48-16 in the Minnesota Section 8AAA high school football championship game Friday night at the Alerus Center.

Michaelson entered the game with more than four times as many rushing yards (1,452) than any other PL back and more than three times as many touchdowns (19) as any of his backfield mates. But he was just part of a proficient backfield, leading the way in a group that had five runners gain more than 60 yards.

"We have a lot of running good running backs," Pequot Lakes coach Chip Lohmiller said. "Matt's getting over the flu; we knew he wouldn't be 100 percent. But Logan (Lange) and Nolan (Michaelson) picked it up. And Cody (Chambers) had a good game.''

Lange opened scoring on a 12-yard touchdown run on a pitchout to the left side with 4:12 left in the first quarter.

Lange scored again on a 10-yard run with 2:38 left in the first half. Pequot Lakes got the ball right back on a Nolan Michaelson interception on the Yellowjackets' first play on their ensuing possession. Chambers capped the 33-yard drive -- helped by a pair of Perham penalties totaling 15 yards -- by scoring on a 3-yard run up the middle.

Pequot Lakes held a comfortable margin the rest of the way, getting second-half rushing scores from Nolan Michaelson, quarterback Cole Engen and two from Chambers. Matt Michaelson's 117 yards led the Patriots as he went over the 1,500-yard mark for the season. Lange finished with 95 yards on the ground, Chambers 80, Nick Greer 76 and Engen 61.

"We couldn't have stopped them with 13 guys (on defense)," Perham coach Howie Kangas said. "They have a couple of great backs, and a mess of good ones. That's a tough combination."

Perham got a big game out of quarterback Ben Bucholz. The senior was 11-of-26 for 250 yards, throwing second-half touchdowns covering 39 yards to Alex Phelps and 58 yards to Ben Waldon.

But Lohmiller said his Patriots didn't allow a lot of big plays. "We ran real well against them the first time we played (in a two-point win), but we couldn't shut down their passing game. We switched some things around and brought more pressure. It seemed to work."

The 9-2 Yellowjackets had three turnovers in the first half.

"Pequot Lakes played well," Kangas said. "And we didn't have a lot go right. Turnovers hurt us."